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networks as sculpture #36

laiyi-ohlsen opened this issue Aug 12, 2019 · 0 comments

networks as sculpture #36

laiyi-ohlsen opened this issue Aug 12, 2019 · 0 comments


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laiyi-ohlsen commented Aug 12, 2019


A sculpture is material form in real space, this is its most basic quality; a network is a form in both real and “real” space. When we see sculpture, it reveals itself slowly through our visual experience of its form, weight, material, place, volume, mass, amongst other characteristics. Networks, on the other hand, are harder to see, especially when you are in them - but they still have these same properties. Viewing a sculpture is like viewing the culmination of several moments in time. They are collections of choices and physicalizations of priorities. Every detail is a decision and analysing a sculpture reveals its decision tree. In this talk, I will propose that networks can disclose themselves in the same way, if we ask the same questions.

I will present the idea of ‘networks as sculpture.’ I’ll start by sharing analytic tools used to understand sculpture, in isolation and then in relation to networks. Then, I will analyze three network protocols (for ex: IP/TCP, Dat and IPFS) as sculptures. For example: Where does IP/TCP hold its weight when it sends packets? What can we understand about the Dat by focusing upon its scale? Where is IPFS’ center of gravity? I will use primary documents from each network (RFC, whitepapers, etc.) to answer questions about their sculptural form and lastly, will propose different existing sculptures that could be argued as the physical manifestation of a network. For ex: Ronald Bladen’s ‘Untitled’ echoes the Dat protocols redistribution of data by decentering the massive slab’s center of gravity.

Type: Talk / Workshop
Length: 1
Language: English
Additional considerations: none

Session Objective

Position networks in relation to sculptures that resemble the power structures they have the potential to rearrange
Provide alternative analytic tools to discern the intentions of a network, outside of that which technical language affords us
Have a discussion about art in its relation to technology that does not prioritize a technological dogma

Material and Technical Requirements

[List materials you as presenter require AND any participant materials (indicate if support is required for a purchase/cost). Include equipment, technical, and installation requirements if applicable. We will aim to accommodate where possible]



Name: Lai Yi Ohlsen
Twitter: n/a
GitHub: @laiyi-ohlsen

As organizers we strive for low-cost pathways of participation, are you interested in a community billet program either hosting out-of-towners or staying with locals?


Presenter Bio

Lai Yi Ohlsen is an artist and tech worker operating at the intersection of media and movement.

She works to promote open data and advance Internet research and policy as Project Director at Measurement Lab. Previously, she worked to defend and promote human rights online with eQualitie.

She is a 2019 Artist in Residence at Movement Research and her work has been shown at Movement Research’s Fall Festival, New York Art Book Fair and the Internet Archive’s Decentralized Web Summit. Lai Yi has been supported by Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation, rehearsal Residency, Pioneer Works and Peer-to-Peer NYC. She is the author of ‘100 Scores: movement inspired by computers' and tends to her creative practice at Soft Surplus, a collective warehouse space in Brooklyn.

Her current research interests include the proliferation of movement through crappily compressed images, the resistance of automated ‘best practice’ bodies, and how analog forms move in resistance against digital power.

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